When the new home construction business went sour several years ago, developers Brooke Temple and Wayne Robinson decided the restaurant industry would always be viable.

The longtime business associates brought Steak ’n Shake to Rome and are now bringing O’Charley’s to the former Santa Fe and Buenavista Cantina, 707 Turner McCall Blvd.

Robinson said Friday that he and Temple met with O’Charley’s corporate executives in Nashville this week and inked a deal to bring the franchise to Rome.

The O’Charley’s officials, along with representatives from the restaurant’s Ohio-based architectural firm, were in Rome on Thursday to look over the restaurant.

Robinson said corporate architects are going to draw plans for the conversion of the 6,000-square-foot property, and Robinson said he expects to put the restaurant out for bids by the end of March, with construction expected to begin by mid-April.

He hopes to have the new O’Charley’s open sometime in late or possibly the first of August.

“It’s going to be a great concept for Rome. It’s a great family-oriented restaurant with a great menu,” Robinson said. “They bought their own pie company and they offer free pie on Wednesdays. Those have gotten so popular that they sell a lot of whole pies now.”

Robinson said that prior to negotiating the O’Charley’s franchise that he also negotiated with Temple to buy out the real estate executive’s interest in the Rome and Athens Steak ’n Shake restaurants that have been highly successful.

“We kept having people kind of kick the tires but we never got anybody that wanted to put in something (at 707 Turner McCall Blvd.) so we just decided to do something ourselves,” Robinson said. “We approached O’Charley’s ourselves. We’re really excited about it.”

Robinson said that as far as the renovation work goes, he is certain that the bar area is going to be reduced to open up additional seating. “We’ll be somewhere in the 200 (seating) range and the patio is also an option that we are exploring down,” Robinson said.

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